Remembering the Cranky Poet


Papa reported Ezra played a mean game.
Imagine him on the court in his tennis whites
pounding the line, shots hot with topspin.


I must have heard this one a thousand times. 
I knew what came next. A rant on Frost and nets.


His popularity at parties hinged on
crowd bets to see how long the ash would get
on his unpuffed cigarettes, how close
the burning end came to bony fingers.


He didn’t drive. I did. I didn’t allow
smoking in my car. He went through roll
after roll of wintergreen lifesavers,
dropping the empty wrappers at his feet
like sugar chrysalis.


With braggadocio greater than his waist,
he once said he could take Bukowski
in a fight. He flailed his fists. Bukowski
of course was dead.


He had his laurels and quirks – a pair of nylons
he rubbed across a finished poem before
he sent it out. For luck.
Not that it mattered much.
Which brings to mind his forty-page ode
to Baby Jessica that began –
Woe is the well.


I told him I would turn him in
to the metaphor police.
Drop a dime he said.


Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children's librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook—The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press)—and a full length poetry collection—What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.